Turkey identifies Ankara suicide bomber as female Kurdish rebel

Forensic experts investigating the scene of an explosion on March 14, 2016, the day after a suicide car bomb ripped through a busy square in central Ankara killing at least 34 people and wounding 125, officials said.
Forensic experts investigating the scene of an explosion on March 14, 2016, the day after a suicide car bomb ripped through a busy square in central Ankara killing at least 34 people and wounding 125, officials said. PHOTO: AFP
People walk along a street closed to traffic due to security measures close to the site of yesterday's suicide bomb attack in Ankara.
People walk along a street closed to traffic due to security measures close to the site of yesterday's suicide bomb attack in Ankara.PHOTO: REUTERS

ISTANBUL (NEW YORK TIMES) - A woman affiliated with Kurdish militias was responsible for carrying out a suicide car bombing in Ankara over the weekend, the Turkish Interior Ministry said.

The attacker, who struck Kizilay Square in central Ankara on Sunday (March 13) killing at least 37 people, has been identified as Seher Cagla Demir, a Turkish citizen born in 1992.

The ministry said that Demir joined the Kurdistan Workers' Party, known as the PKK, in 2013 and later crossed into Syria to receive training from Syrian Kurdish militants from the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG. Turkey considers both groups to be terrorist organizations.

The ministry's claim could not be independently verified. The PKK has a history of attacking Turkish security forces but not civilians.

No one has claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack in Ankara, which came three weeks after another car bombing in the capital that killed 30 people. A splinter group of the PKK claimed that attack.

The ministry's announcement is likely to heighten tensions between Turkey and the United States, which has been coordinating with YPG forces on the ground in Syria in the fight against the Islamic State.

The United States' stance toward the YPG, including an insistence on differentiating between the group and the PKK, has angered Turkey, a Nato ally, which views the groups as one and the same.

Turkish security forces have been at war with Kurdish militants in south-eastern Turkey since the breakdown of a fragile peace process last year. The Turkish army has also been shelling YPG positions in northern Syria.

Turkish officials fear that the Syrian Kurds' expansion across Turkey's border with Syria will fuel separatist ambitions among Kurds in Turkey.